The Green Life - Sierra Clubs Daily Tips for Living Well and Doing Good
I get these in my inbox each day. this is the past month's worth or so. I will post the new ones here to share with all of you. The Friday tips are submitted by readers. How many of these things do you do? Any of them you think you can start with little effort?
The average house creates double the greenhouse-gas emissions of the average car. Audit your home’s energy use -- and see how you can reduce it -- at http://hes.lbl.gov/.
Need some nails? Hit the local hardware store instead of Home Depot. A dollar spent in a locally owned business is worth three times as much to the local economy as one spent in a chain store.
I am always looking for ways to conserve water. So much water is wasted when people take their showers. So instead of washing my hair in the shower, I wash it at the sink before getting into the shower. In the summer, when I take a shower, I turn off the water while I wash and then turn it back on to rinse off. Another suggestion is that when I rinse fruits and vegetables, I save the water in the dishpan and take it outside to water my plants. It is amazing how much water can be saved if we are more conscious of our actions. -- Submitted by Lisa K. Long
If you drive a car, keep your tires inflated to the recommended pressure in your owner's manual. Underinflating tires by as little as five pounds can cut your gas mileage by 2 percent.
Still paying your bills the old-fashioned way? Consider switching to electronic statements. If all American households received and paid their bills online, it would eliminate more than 800,000 tons of waste each year.
We use way too much fossil fuel shipping bottled water and soft drinks. I purchased several filter pitchers and switched to reusable stainless steel water bottles instead of buying bottled water. Now, instead of taking fizzy waters or sodas to work for lunch, I bring iced tea made in a reusable bottle. Not only am I cutting my carbon footprint, I'm also saving myself from unhealthy carbonation and sugar. -- Submitted by Valerie Sherron
To eat organically on a budget, choose minimally processed food, buy in bulk to avoid marketing and packaging costs, cook as much as you can from scratch, shop locally and in season, and deploy meat as a seasoning rather than the centerpiece of a meal.
Americans toss out more than 100 million cell phones every year. Keep their toxic ingredients (including lead, mercury, and arsenic) out of landfills by recycling your old cell through CollectiveGood.com.
Little steps add up. If organic foods made up just 10 percent of everyone’s diet, it would restore more than 6 billion pounds of carbon to our soil, and eliminate more than 2 million pounds of antibiotics used in livestock and more than 2 billion barrels of imported oil annually. Find out more at Mission Organic 2010.
When traveling, look for a hotel that is working to save water and energy and reduce waste. Get listings at greenhotels.com or greenseal.org/programs/lodging_properties.cfm.
I feel like I am already doing a lot to protect the environment. However, each day I try to find one new thing to do to reduce my footprint, something that I haven't been doing already. The other day I really wanted to see a movie in the afternoon, but my husband had the car and the bus doesn't go to the theater. I decided that I could ride my bike. It feels further, but it's no further than where I go by bike to volunteer once a week. I don't succeed every day in reducing my footprint this way, but I do manage to do it a couple of times a week. It keeps me on my toes, thinking outside the box of my comfort zone and habits. -- Submitted by Judy Skog
Weeds may not be good for your garden, but they can be good for you: A cup of chopped dandelion leaves has almost 40 percent as much calcium as a cup of milk, plus plenty of other nutrients.
Food travels an average of 1,500 to 2,000 miles to reach our plates -- but not if you buy it from one of the more than 1,200 small U.S. farms that offer fresh produce "subscriptions." Find one near you at foodroutes.org.
If it's time to buy a new clothes washer, consider a front-loading machine. They use one-third to one-half the water and less soap than top-loaders, and they're gentler on clothes too.
Feeling fishy? Opt for Wild Alaskan or Pacific salmon over the farmed kind. It’s better for you, and the ocean. To download a handy reference guide to potentially dangerous or overfished seafood, go to sierraclub.org/mercury/fishguide.pdf.
I have been using a reel-type lawnmower for a month now and I love it. My yard is not small, 50 feet x 120 feet, but it takes no longer to cut the grass with the reel vs. a gas mower. You can't cut backwards, and it has trouble with high grass, but I can mow early in the morning, before it gets hot, without disturbing the neighbors. I love the simplicity of whipping it out and starting the job without first checking the gas tank and then cussing at the mower to get it to start. You just push and cut. Maintenance is minimal as well. My yearly household emissions are cut 10 percent by this simple change.--Submitted by Anne Thornhill
Each year, 100 million trees are used to produce junk mail. Find out how to get off marketers' lists at newdream.org/junkmail.
Bring your own mug to work, school, or your local cafe. Some coffee shops will even offer a small discount if you do.